How to Engage Instead of Alienate Your Contract Employees

Have contract openings you need to fill? Connect with me, and quickly tap into my amazing contract talent network in HR, recruiting and sourcing communities. 

Earlier this week, I received an email from a contract recruiter who asked me to explain why the onboarding process was so damned complicated for short term contract recruiters and employees. My immediate response was, “Welcome to the corporate world where we take an incredibly easy process and make it complicated and filled with process because it’s what we’ve always been doing.”

How to Alienate Your Contractors with Bad Onboarding

I hired my first contract recruiter in 2007. The onboarding process that my Fortune 200 company put him through delayed me bringing him on board for nearly a month. He had drug tests and a background check for a 12 week position just like my long term and perm employees. The problem arose with his reference checking. I’ve known him forever. He has fabulous experience but the bosses at his last 7 years of contracts were not at their former companies. My company couldn’t go forward bringing him on board because no one could be contacted to verify his past work history. Adding fuel to the fire was that I wasn’t made aware of this issue by my reference check vendor until over two weeks had passed. I was overwhelmed with requisitions and backlogged as we had just opened the staffing flood gates for 75 new positions for the division in which I was working.

The independent freelance and contract employee market is exploding. Sites like elance, crowdflower and other freelance communities and websites are growing in popularity as workers pick up side projects or leave their traditional corporate jobs altogether demanding the control and flexibility of working for themselves on their own terms and time. I can attest it’s happening because I did the same thing.

Contract employees are in demand. They help fill gaps hopefully quickly in our staff. Maybe someone is out on maternity leave, FLMA, vacation or a need like mine where temporarily the workload in recruiting or HR had grown due to quarterly headcount numbers and sales projections shifts at my company.

The Rise of the Candidate Experience for the Contract Employee

In addition to the candidate experience, companies must begin courting and engaging their contract candidates in the same way. Build relationships, create points of contact and consider what it’s like for their own contract experience in recruiting, hiring and engagement before, during and after the project to continue keeping the lines of communication open just in case that need for a future project might arise. We need to create a candidate engagement process and community for our contract workers instead of just treating them like an invoice and sending them to the complicated and lonely world of vendor, accounts payable and accounting.

Lately, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I think it’s important to create an experience for our contract and temporary employees. Community and relationships are also really important as I know first hand how important having the right contractor in a pinch can be. Last month, I took it a serious step further and created the Blogging4Jobs Contract Community. We have a nice cross section of candidates including recruiters, HR practitioners and sourcers, but now I need to find contract homes for these awesome independent consultants and project based employees.

Have contract openings you need to fill? Connect with me, and quickly tap into my amazing contract talent network in HR, recruiting and sourcing communities. 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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